Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and its military “coalition” have been committing atrocities in Yemen on a colossal scale—bombing hospitals, health clinics, schools, factories, markets, weddings, funerals, residential areas, even school buses, and killing thousands of civilians.
This unrelenting assault, coupled with a suffocating naval blockade, has created “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time” in the words of the United Nations, which says Yemen is on the brink of the world’s worst famine in a century, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation. The war has also led to the worst cholera outbreak in the world, with roughly 10,000 cases reported per week.
The United States is deeply complicit in this staggering slaughter. It provides the weapons as well as the operational, logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. The Pentagon also supports the Saudi campaign in Yemen through a classified operation and is reported to have special operations forces on the ground there.
In 2015, the Obama administration signed off on the Saudi intervention largely as a concession to the kingdom, which was irate about the Iran nuclear deal. Following reports of Saudi war crimes in Yemen, in October 2016 Obama banned the sale of precision-guided military technology to the kingdom. The Trump administration overturned that ban in March 2017.
Trump has deepened U.S. support for the Saudi-Emirati intervention in Yemen, increased arms sales to the Saudi kingdom and emphatically embraced the reactionary agendas and repressive policies of the Gulf monarchies. Amid the global outcry over the Saudi kingdom’s gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration announced that the U.S. military would no longer refuel Saudi coalition planes.
While this suggests that the administration is feeling the heat from mounting pressure to recalibrate the U.S.-Saudi alliance and U.S. policy on Yemen, Trump continues to give the benefit of the doubt to Mohammed bin Salman, despite the preponderance of evidence that the Saudi Crown Prince directly ordered Khashoggi’s murder.
Congressional efforts to end U.S. support for the criminal Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen have been bolstered both by the Khashoggi affair and the results of the midterm elections. The “Murphy Amendment” introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and H.Con.Res.138 sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna of California, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, would cut off U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition. We also support the bipartisan legislation Senators Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee are bringing forward, S.J. Res.54.
While these measures have been opposed and circumvented by Republicans in Congress, the tide is now turning. This is a critical moment for the struggle to end U.S. support for this criminal military intervention.
DSA strongly supports these measures and encourages all our members to urge their elected representatives and senators to sign on as co-sponsors. We also encourage DSA members to publicize and politicize this issue by joining the broader movement for peace in Yemen and the entire region.
The Yemen war is a complex conflict, one with internal Yemeni dynamics in addition to the regional and global ones addressed here. Ending the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen will not bring the war to a conclusion in and of itself. But it will end a horrific onslaught of war crimes, alleviate the threat of mass starvation and ease the suffering of countless Yemeni civilians.
Without U.S. support, the Saudi-led coalition would lose its lifeline. But Yemenis themselves must bring this war to an end and rebuild their shattered society. Non-combatants are essential to securing peace in Yemen. DSA strongly supports Yemeni civil society and human rights activists in their struggles to end the war and forge a viable future.